Thursday, August 28, 2008

AIM Dashboard Horror

I love to hate the page that loads up in the browser when you log into AIM.  I know how to turn it off, but I don't watch E! or read People, so it's really my only exposure to the celebrity fake news that Time Warner is cranking out.  The headline?  Michael Jackson faces his 50th birthday.  The article on the topic said he's working on a batch of songs.  I don't think he'll be able to stage a comeback unless he opens a show in Vegas.  It made Barry Manilow and Prince a ton of cash.  <shrug>  I am not a big MJ fan, but I did listen to his music in the 80's.  So, I clicked on the associated picture gallery on AOL which illustrates how he, sadly, has clearly ruined his face.  I have no words.  Click here for the horror.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What's black and green at the same time?

I've heard of some really silly ideas for saving energy, but this one really hit home.  It's a version of Google with a black background instead of white.  It's called Blackle.  Supposedly, the monitor uses less power to display black than white.  While Blackle is powered by Google, it lacks a few Google features, so I'm not ready to make it my default search engine.  I just took iGoogle and made the background black and used the sleek black theme.  That's way better than Blackle already, plus it has my widgets, so I have traffic, weather, engadget news, and a wikipedia search box all right there.  I already use the Zune theme for XP, so that's already really dark.  The first thing I do in whatever editor or terminal program I'm using is make the background really dark blue and the text light gray.  I'm not nostalgic for WordPerfect, it's just easier on your eyes, if you stare at a screen all day.

Bigfoot hoax, and vending machine food.

Well, the bigfoot dudes turned out to be scam artists.  I suppose they made a buck or two from selling caps and t-shirts.  One of them lost his law enforcement job, and now they're facing a lawsuit.  I blame the press for covering this prank in the first place.


Usually, I just hit delete really fast when I get an email like this [emphasis mine]:

Subject: American Food & Vending - Cafeteria Service


Dear Tenants,


Please read the attached letter. Feel free to distribute it to all of your associates and post it within your space. The continued lack of participation in vending, lack of sales, and rocketing food prices is calling for a more cost effective approach to keeping the cafeterias in business at Summit Tech.  We want to continue to provide the amenity but will only be able to do so with everyone at the campus supporting and giving their constructive feedback.  If you have comments, positive or negative, for American Food & Vending feel free to send them to me and I will make sure they are passed along.



Assistant Property Manager

Carrow Real Estate Services, KC LLC

777 NW Blue Parkway

Lee's Summit, MO 64086

P: 816-251-XXXX

F: 816-251-XXXX


It was a boring moment, so I replied.  I wonder if they'll get a clue.  Most of the food they serve in the cafeteria and put in the vending machines is terribly unhealthy.


I don’t use the vending machines very often, because I usually drink coffee and tea and I’m not big on candy.  The machines don’t have mixed nuts, so I bring my own.  I usually bring a lunch.  But, I once worked in an office with a food cart that came around in the mid-morning with snacks and lunches, and it worked out great.  I made an effort to keep cash in my wallet so I could grab something from the food cart and could eat at my desk.  It was especially great if I had rushed and missed breakfast or I was waiting for a phone call or stuck on a long conference.  If you came around between 10:30 and 11:30 with a food cart full of goodies, packaged sandwiches, muffins, fruit, etc. I would be more likely to buy.  That lunch cart guy must have made a fortune, and I know he hit about 10 office buildings every day.


Charles Hill / ♠ Capgemini USA / Kansas City

Network Engineer / Outsourcing Services – IM – N

Friday, August 15, 2008

Body of Bigfoot

So, these dudes have a Bigfoot in their freezer.

That looks pretty real to me.

Good week.

Another whirlwind week went by.  I bumped into some problems with my complicated router deployment, particularly with the connectivity to the wireless AP.  It's difficult when the standards involve connecting an AP to a switch, and the device I'm connecting it to is a switch card inside a router, which is a completely different animal.  They've been using the network for a week now, so I think all the kinks are worked out.  The rest of the stuff that needs work is just preferences in the voice mail system, and adding a few routes to the VPN, so they can reach all the resources they need and so voice people can get in there and set up the auto-attendant, etc.

I've been watching the Olympics a lot, so there went most of my spare time.  About the time I get tired of gymnastics, track and field starts up.  I think I'll be glad when it's over.  I would never otherwise watch volleyball.

I've been doing a lot of reading, too.  Following that entrepreneurship workshop in Chicago, I've been reading books on entrepreneurship, wealth building, and so forth.  When pressed with the question of what kind of business would I start if I had to start one, my mind goes in a million directions.  I have a lot of talents and quite an accumulation of knowledge, mostly technical.  Doing that kind of self-assessment is eye opening.  I could definitely do technical services and IT equipment sales and leasing. 

Being a landlord for the past 7 years has also been eye opening.  I've taken risks and had some victories and some losses, and it's sort of balanced out. On the upside, I learned a ton.  Now that I've worked for the smallest of companies, two employees, and the largest, nearly 100,000 employees, I know what works in all of those environments and what doesn't.  I've also seen the growing pains of small companies going to medium sized.  I've seen mergers and spin-offs.  I realize that I've helped make a lot of other people very rich.  It makes me wonder when it's going to be my turn.  The answer is simply, when I follow in their footsteps and lead an actual business.  So, that's what sparked my interest.  Anyway, you miss all of the shots you don't take.  As a real estate investor, I'm carefully watching the OFHEO data for my area every time it updates.  I'm starting to see house prices solidify and even appreciate again.  I would be sort of foolish to cash out at the bottom, but on the other hand, I could leverage some cash now by picking up some foreclosed properties at the bottom.  It's still a gamble.  A service business is not a gamble.  The only cost is time and effort.  The upside is huge.  Anyway, I'm looking for ways to capitalize a startup technical services business, an industry I know inside and out now.  I can lay the groundwork now, so when the time comes to branch out on my own, I'll be ready.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Stressful week.

After work Friday, I just came home and took a nap.  I did not go to the gym.  I did not go to happy hour with my coworkers.  I went face down on the couch.  It's been that kind of week.  After much work, I finally got all the pieces I needed for the office network I'm setting up. . . except the antennas for the wireless access point.  I can probably grab some dipole antennas from anywhere.  The router I set up for this office is doing everything.  It is the DHCP server, the switch with four VLANs, the voice mail server with 100 hours of voice mail capacity, the phone system, the Internet egress/ingress, the firewall, the time of day server, the VPN tunnel end point, the wireless controller, and it supplies power to the access point and the phones.  I've never configured more protocols on one box.  It has one Internet connection which carries the phone trunks (SIP/RTP from an ITSP called nexVortex), the VPN connectivity to two different companies, and Internet access.  After this, I can setup a branch office network anywhere for under $10k for network and phone equipment and about that for labor, including the cabling.  I have the skillz.  And the monthly recurring cost for all the circuits, including 10 megabits of internet and 8 DID numbers with unlimited concurrent calls and 10,000 minutes per month, is under $300.  If not for executives asking for lower costs and more features, I would never have put together such a monstrosity, but now that I've seen it work, I want to duplicate it. 

When I try to list the protocols working in that beast, it amazes me the amount of technology employed and also reminds me how much I've learned over the years of doing this stuff.

Ethernet IEEE 802.3
FastEthernet IEEE 802.3u
VLAN trunking, IEEE 802.1q and 802.10
PoE 802.3af
IPv4 RFC791, RFC1812
IP over Ethernet RFC894 (aka 802.16)
IPSec RFC2401
SCCP (aka Skinny)
ITU-T G.711 ulaw
ITU-T H.323
IEEE STP 802.1d
. . . and the list could go on and on.  I haven't even started on the wireless 802.11 protocols, encryption, and authentication.  This is the tip of the iceberg of protocols Iknow, these just happen to be the ones I'm using for this implementation.  If I added a Cisco PAG and a Synology 207+ for VMSS, it would do the physical security and camera surveillance, too.  There's a whole suite of protocols related to video.